News ID: 239862
Published: 0318 GMT March 06, 2019

Turkey says it will conduct joint operation with Iran against Kurdish militants

Turkey says it will conduct joint operation with Iran against Kurdish militants

Turkey and Iran will carry out a joint operation against Kurdish militants, according to the Turkish interior minister.

Turkey has battled the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) for decades, while Iranian security forces have fought its affiliate, the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK). Both groups have bases in neighboring Iraq, Al Jazeera reported.

“God willing, we will carry out a joint operation against the PKK together with Iran,” Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told state media.

“The terrorist organization is going through the most difficult period in its history,” Soylu added.

Turkey and many of its Western allies have listed the PKK as a “terrorist” group.

Soylu did not specify the details of the suggested operation, or the time and location.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has previously said a joint operation would be conducted against the groups' hideouts in Iraq.

In 2017, Erdogan also said a joint Turkish-Iranian operation against Kurdish militants was “always on the agenda.”

The PKK has waged a three-and-a-half decade violent campaign seeking independence from the Turkish state, a conflict that has left tens of thousands dead.

Over the past few months, Turkish ground and air forces have been carrying out operations against PKK positions in the country as well as in northern Iraq and neighboring Syria.

In January 2018, Ankara launched a cross-border military operation inside Syria, code-named Operation Olive Branch, with the declared aim of eliminating the Syrian Kurdish militants of the People's Protection Units (YPG).

The YPG forms the backbone of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an anti-Damascus alliance of predominantly Kurdish militants supported by the United States.

Ankara views the YPG as a terrorist organization and the Syrian branch of the outlawed PKK.

More than 40,000 people have been killed during the three-decade conflict between Turkey and the autonomy-seeking militant group.

Iran has had its own struggle with the PKK's Iranian offshoot, the so-called Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK), which has waged several terrorist attacks in western Iran over the past years.

The terror group carries out attacks in parts of Iran's West Azerbaijan Province which borders Iraq, Turkey, and Armenia.

In September last year, Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRCG) fired as many as seven missiles at a gathering of terrorist commanders in Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.

Back then, the IRGC said in a statement the missile attack was carried out after terrorist groups affiliated with the global arrogance from the Kurdistan region ignored serious warnings about Iran's determination to dismantle their bases and the necessity to end their aggressive and terrorist acts against the Islamic Republic.

Iran has in the past welcomed Turkey's announced plans to build a 144-kilometer stretch of wall along the border between the two neighbors. Ankara has described the wall as an effective barrier that could halt movement of PKK militants based in Iraq’s Qandil Mountains, bordering Iran and Turkey.




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